Minorities in cartoons: Ronald-Ann Smith

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Updated on December 10, 2021

This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Ronald-Ann Smith. She’s a recurring character in Berkeley Breathed’s comic strips “Bloom County” and “Outland.”

Background

Ronald-Ann Smith is named after then-President Ronald Reagan. She’s a grade-school aged African-American girl with a highly optimistic view of the world. This comes in spite of her impoverished environment. The strip says she’s from the “wrong side of the tracks” of Bloom County. She usually carried around a headless doll. (She said its head was shot off in drug-related gang wars.) Ronald-Ann often spent time around “Bloom County”‘s biggest star, Opus the penguin.

After “Bloom County” ended, Breathed shifted to his new Sunday-only strip, “Outland,” with Ronald-Ann as its main star. Eventually, however, Ronald-Ann was soon displaced by the return of Opus (and some other “Bloom County” characters). She soon disappeared from the strip altogether. Wikipedia states Ronald-Ann made a brief cameo toward the end of the run of Breathed’s following and final newspaper strip, “Opus.”

Other media

Ronald-Ann made one animated appearance, in the Christmas special “A Wish for Wings that Work.”

Alexaundria Simmons voiced Ronald-Ann. IMDB lists a few acting credits for Simmons, but nothing since 2000.

(Updated 11/17/16)

Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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One thought on “Minorities in cartoons: Ronald-Ann Smith

  1. Ronald-Ann was the star of the best comic Breathed ever wrote. It was a Sunday strip very early in Outland. Very difficult to find now. Opus and Mortimer, I think, are arguing about the meaning of life and they ask Ronald-Ann her thoughts. Ronald-Ann is playing with her headless doll, victim of a drive-by shooting. She responds, “Duck”.

    Mortimer and Opus, who despite being animals are clearly White, cannot accept this dark response. Surely, Opus says, there must be something more, such as “have a nice day”.

    And Ronald-Ann responds, “Have a nice day… and duck.”

    A brilliant poke at White middle class liberal “values” and the desperate need to hide the victims of American greed and violence. Of course, Ronald-Ann and her doll were far too uncomfortable for Breathed’s liberal readers, as was even Mortimer. Slowly, but surely, Bloom County (White) characters infiltrated Outland and minority or radical characters faded away. Soon, even Outland was gone, although the strip continued as a Bloom County sequel under the Outland brand for many years before being rebranded again to Opus — the safe character.

    Opus (the comic) quickly descended into incoherent (and utterly unfunny) nonsense. It can only be the nostalgia of the White liberal audience for the unthreatening penguin with the deformed beak that kept it going.

    Breathed is a coward. I guess he deserves some credit for trying — and for one perfect Sunday strip. But really, he is stuck in Bloom County forever. Maybe he is the ultimate victim.

    Even his outing of Steve Dallas as gay had to be dialed back. How sad.

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